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SUNY Purchase ︎ (DES3240) Design Issues

Problematic History


I saw Kelly Walters talk around Halloween last year (2019) as part of Hakan’s masters program. It was super great, and the talk below is relatively close to the subject matter she talked about though truncated a great deal. 

I think all of her work is interesting, but I find the idea of not hiding or forgetting problematic history (in her case minstrel show posters) and figuring out ways to make that work prescient through her own process super generative. 

I also think this is a more powerful and necessary way of looking at graphic design history rather than talking about “traditional” history (ie Guttenberg, Trajan inscription) and taking an aside to mentioning woodblock printing in China.

I’m not placing the Nazi stuff here to be “edgy,” I think there’s a legitimate question about how and it what way that content might be covered in a contemporary context, and how it might be read with the current political landscape. 

Required Readings/Viewings

Contextualizing Readings/Viewings

Questions to think about

  • Should problematic history be forgotten/not recorded? Why or why not?
  • Is the Nazi stuff more “pertinent” to graphic design history because of its relationship to Bauhaus? In a more general sense, what’s up with that
  • How much is Steven Heller doing legitimate research and how much does he come off like Steve Buscemi’s character in Ghost World?

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